New Guidelines for Back Pain – Try These 5 Alternative Therapies First!

November 3, 2020 . fitadmin

The most recent New York Times article about back pain guidelines is making a splash! According to the new guideline, the American College of Physicians now states that people suffering from back pain should try non-pharmacological therapies first. That means opioids, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants should not be the first line treatments. Moreover, the physicians interviewed say that steroid injections, acetaminophen, and MRI scans are not helpful at all. This is a direct decision to counter the growing opioid epidemic and begin a new way of thinking about pain management.

Try These 5 Things First…

The new assertion is that acute back pain is something that will run its course. They define “acute” as pain occurring less than 4 weeks with no radicular symptoms down the leg. But for many people with severe pain or chronic pain, waiting is unbearable. The guidelines suggest trying these 5 therapies first:

  1. Acupuncture 
    • This ancient therapy improves circulation, calms the nervous system, and reduces inflammation.
  2. Exercise
    • It can be formal like physical therapy, or simply walking fast enough to break a sweat. Movement promotes circulation to injured muscles and increases range of motion.
  3. Massage
    • Techniques vary from Swedish to Tui Na, but they aim to soften and lengthen muscle tissue and improve circulation.
  4. Mindfulness training & Biofeedback
    • Find out what relaxation techniques your body responds to best.
  5. Spinal manipulations
    • Gentle and high velocity techniques that realign the spine for a more balanced body.

More Than Placebo


One point of interest is that the featured experts mention how studies show that placebos help people feel better even when people know they are taking placebos! This indicates that people experience relief simply by the idea of being treated. This may be due to many things, but it is my opinion that the nervous system calms down at the very idea of being treated. Consequently, when the nervous system calms down, the muscles are allowed to relax. Well I know from experience that acupuncture, massage, and mindfulness training like Biofeedback are excellent tools for calming the nervous system. Furthermore, acupuncture, massage and spinal manipulations also address the physical causes of the pain in order to create real change to heal the injured tissue. Meanwhile, physical therapy, personal training, and exercise can help people build strength so that the injury is less likely to recur.

The physicians in the article emphasize that people suffering from back pain should make a point to actually move rather than remain immobile. They encourage people to set goals for healing and to maintain hope about the state of their pain. Here at Fit Acupuncture, we absolutely share this sentiment! We believe in the body’s ability to heal if given the right resources; we believe that there can be a healthier, pain-free future for those suffering from back pain now.

To find out more or schedule an appointment, please call 206-582-3469.

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